Access your home and work locations in Google Maps

With Google Maps, we’ve made it increasingly easy to save and re-find the places that matter to you. Last year, we introduced the My Places tab which organizes your saved Custom Maps, directions that you’ve previously looked up, and locations you’ve starred, checked-in and rated. Starting today, you’ll also be able to save your home and work locations in Google Maps when signed in with your Google account.

Imagine moving to a foreign country — this means a new city, a new neighborhood, and even a new apartment to call home. That was how I began my summer last year, moving from Boulder, Colorado to Tokyo, Japan. In a new country where blocks, not streets, are labeled and addresses use a different formatting system, finding home was a feat in and of itself. And that’s how the idea to save home and work locations in Google Maps was born.

By saving these locations that are common to you in My Places, you’ll be able to access these addresses by simply typing “home” or “work” when searching or getting directions in Google Maps. Using these keywords will create a drop-down suggestion with the address you’ve set so that you no longer have to type the full address into the search box.

By saving your home and work locations in My Places, you’ll also see special icons to easily identify these locations on the map.

To set your home and work locations, you’ll need to sign in with your Google Account. Once logged in, click the My Places tab in Google Maps and save your home and work locations. From the My Places panel, you can also edit or delete your saved locations by clicking the drop-down to the right of the home or work icons.

With home and work locations saved in Google Maps, we hope to help you navigate your way to these frequently visited places, regardless of where you may be.

The Evolution of Place Pages

Making constant tweaks and adjustments to our user interfaces and overall user experience have always been the norm at Google, and you may have recently heard about our renewed effort across all Google products to make the user experience more focused, elastic and effortless. Changes have already started to appear on Google Maps, and we’ve now simplified our Place pages across desktop and mobile devices as well.
Some of the changes you’ll notice today have been made so you can quickly get a sense for what other people are saying about a place, more easily upload photos of places you’ve been (by using a more obvious “Upload a photo” button), and see reviews in a single section on the page. Since the introduction of Google Places’ local rating and review feature last fall — originally called Hotpot — we’ve heard loud and clear that reviews help you find the places that are right for you, especially when you’re able to get recommendations based on your tastes and those of your friends. So we’ve added the call-to-action “Write a review” button to the top of the Place page to encourage you to tell us what you think about places you’ve visited, while at the same time ensuring that you get personalized recommendations in return when you’re signed in to your Google account.

Based on careful thought about the future direction of Place pages, and feedback we’ve heard over the past few months, review snippets from other web sources have now been removed from Place pages. Rating and review counts reflect only those that’ve been written by fellow Google users, and as part of our continued commitment to helping you find what you want on the web, we’re continuing to provide links to other review sites so you can get a comprehensive view of locations across the globe.

Beyond today’s transition, our long-term vision for local search includes:

  • Bringing you more personalized results when you search for local places — because we understand that information from the people you know is most meaningful;
  • Integrating some of the great information that’s been buried on Place pages into your web search experience across all Google platforms;
  • Giving you more ways to rate, discover and share places you love faster and easier than ever, wherever you are, and on whichever device you choose.
So whether you’re looking for a great restaurant you haven’t yet tried, or the perfect place to buy a friend’s birthday gift, we hope you continue to find the information on Place pages useful. There have been lots of changes in the nearly two years since Place pages were introduced, and because there’s always more room for improvement, you can expect more changes to come.

Mapping Hotpot Ratings in Austin, Texas, to Discover the Popular Spots

For a lot of attendees at SXSW this month, including myself, it was our first trip to Austin, Texas. We’ve all heard stories about the great restaurants and bars found throughout the city, but I didn’t know where to start looking.

Luckily for us, on February 11, Google launched a campaign in Austin to promote Hotpot, a new tool to help you find the places you’ll love. Rate and review the places you know using Hotpot, and Google will personalize your search results based on your preferences and recommendations from friends.

To help newcomers identify great places in Austin, we began importing anonymous rating signals into Google Fusion Tables in near real-time. When a new rating came in, it was directly inserted into Fusion Tables using the Fusion Tables API. In the examples below we used a FusionTablesLayer with the heat map option enabled. We used Styled Maps to tone down the background colors to make the heat map stand out more.

After the first day of collecting anonymous Austin ratings, using the heat map function in Fusion Tables, we were able to see a few patterns start to emerge:

Austin, Texas – 24hrs of Hotpot ratings heat map starting on March 1, 2011

Just 24 hours of rating data was able to provide a good idea of where to target my Hotpot search in Austin, but I wanted to see what the concentration would be like after a few days. With just 12 days of Hotpot data, the heat map generated in Fusion Tables really starts to show much more concentrated patterns:

Austin, Texas — Hotpot ratings heat map March 1, 2011, to March 12

Having never been to Austin, I could tell by looking at the heat map that the hottest places in the city are along 6th Street, between Lamar Avenue and the I-35. Additionally, Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas at Austin campus also has a lot of activity. Based on the high activity, those areas would be a good place to start exploring the city.

If you’d like to watch Hotpot trends as they shape over the coming days, you can view more Hotpot ratings in near real-time on